Owens Corning is introducing a new automotive headliner system that it said is stronger, quieter and simpler to make.
``It's driven by a number of things, one of which is that our customers want to do more with the headliner,'' Gary Nieman, vice president of Owens Corning Automotive, said in an interview at the auto industry's Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City. The Toledo, Ohio-based firm is rolling out AcoustiMax to coincide with the annual conference.
Headliners are a $1 billion business. OC's system uses a combination of thermoforming and compression molding, which allows molders and carmakers to fine-tune the structural, sound and surface qualities to each car.
About 75 percent of cars and trucks now built use a polyurethane-based thermoset headliner, which can have eight different layers of materials including the resin, glass fiber and the fabric that passengers actually see.
AcoustiMax is four layers with a core of polypropylene. Since automakers are using more PP in auto interiors, Owens Corning said AcoustiMax improves the complete vehicle recyclability.
The new headliner is about more than the environment, however. It is up to 20 percent quieter, Nieman said, allowing drivers to clamp down on outside noises and hear their own entertainment systems instead.
``Consumers are deciding what they want to hear and what they don't want to hear,'' he said.
It also offers up 45 percent more structural strength, making it easier to make those entertainment systems - such as DVD players, speakers and other components - part of the roof module.
``Our customers find that when it comes to headliners, they need to be able to hang more things,'' he said.